The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), 1994 in Cairo was a landmark, resulting in an impressive and ambitious set of goals for improving sexual health and reproductive rights all over the world. The broad issues of and interrelationships between population, sustained economic growth, health, education, economic status and empowerment of women, adolescents and youth were brought to the fore. It was envisaged that the goals and objectives set in the ICPD POA will be met by 2015.
Since 1994 efforts have been underway in villages, districts, nations and regions to realize the programme’s vision. Five years on from this event, at ICPD+5, over 170 government delegations and about 200 non-governmental organizations met again to discuss progress and obstacles – a review which showed that the Programme of Action has resulted in significant changes to health policies in many countries
It is for this reason that the 5th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights is holding in Windhoek to take stock of the achievements thus far and prioritise women, girls, adolescents and youth as added strategy to achieving the ICPD goals and objectives. It is a well known fact that Programme of Action transforms – and can indeed saves – lives.
While people under 25 years of age represent more than half of the population, the sexual and reproductive health needs of youth in Africa remain acute. Socio-cultural and structural factors too often compound young peoples’ vulnerability and marginalization. Early marriages, unintended pregnancies, sexual violence and minimal access to sexuality education and youth friendly sexual and reproductive health services have continued to limit the rights of young women and men as enshrined in various charters and treaties. Addressing these important developmental issues affecting young people’s well-being requires a participatory approach to priority-setting.
Despite the challenges facing adolescents and youth, the young people of Africa continue to present us with opportunities to address their sexual and reproductive health. Urgent steps need to be taken to promote dialogue between adults and youth on such sensitive issues of adolescent sexuality such as sexuality education, sexual violence and abuse, gender roles and traditional practices.
Sexual and reproductive health and rights are indispensable in the achievement of both the ICPD POA and Millennium Development Goals.
The 5th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights is being hosted by the Namibia Planned Parenthood Association (NAPPA), an affiliate member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) under the auspices of the African Federation for Sexual Health and Rights. The conference theme is “Sexual Health and Rights in Africa: Where are We?”
This conference will interrogate the status of sexual health and rights in Africa and in particular focus on women, girls, adolescents and youth. Efforts will be made to ensure that many constituent groups and stakeholders engage in learning exchange around policy and programme management including financing for sexual health.
- To take stock of responses to sexual health and rights on the continent since ICPD
- To explore sexual health and rights of women, girls, adolescents and youth in Africa
The conference presentations, papers and posters will explore the conference theme and the sub-themes “Sexual and Reproductive Rights-Legal, Policy and Programme Issues (including financing sexual and reproductive health)” and “Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Adolescents and Youth” through the following thematic areas:
- Adolescent and Youth Sexuality
- Women’s and Girls Sexuality
- Disabilities and Sexual Rights
- Sexual Rights and Sex Work
- HIV/AIDS and Sexuality
- Sexuality, Culture and Religion
- Sexual and Reproductive Rights (Legal, Policy and Programme Issues- financing, equity, access, implementation, enforcement and redress)
- Sexual Orientation, Sexual/Gender Identity and Sexual and Reproductive Rights
- Capacity building and Knowledge Management
- Alliance building, capacity enhancement and learning exchange for improved Policy, Legal and Programme management on sexual and reproductive rights.
- To disseminate relevant international declarations, charters and guidelines to civil society organizations to enhance their role in promoting sexual and reproductive rights.
- To plan and conduct a communications strategy, around the conference in order to produce dialogue on issues of sexuality, sexual health and sexual rights.
- To produce a conference technical report/publication that can be publicized for use by various institutions working in the field of sexual and reproductive rights.
The conference is expected to be attended by policy makers, civil society organisations, academia, educationists, media, development activists, sexual health and rights advocates, women, girls, adolescents and youth. The conference offers a unique opportunity to further seek ways of mobilizing actions for improved understanding of sexuality and promotion of sexual health and well-being of all peoples on the African continent.